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Why Your Subject Line May Be Killing Your Open Rate

Rick Chastain

Rick Chastain About The Author

September 28, 2016

email_subject.gifYou've created the perfect marketing email.  You've built a quality contact list. You send at the right day and time. Your ducks are in a row, but your open rate is lower than you hoped.  What gives?  Is it your bounce rate?  Did your email go to SPAM? Did a bunch of contacts unsubscribe?  It may be none of the above.

Unless you're a proponent of Inbox Zero, chances are you've got a bunch of unread emails in your inbox.  Your customers are probably the same, so it's easy to envision them scrolling through their inbox, skimming the subject line of each email (yours included) and, if it does not catch their interest, clicking delete...delete...delete.

Since 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone, it's a good idea to make sure that yours are in line with best practice.  Here are some valuable tips to make sure that your email is opened, read and clicked.

1. Keep it short, sweet and simple

Email subject lines get cut off when they’re too long, particularly on mobile devices. With 40% of emails being opened on a mobile device, subject lines with fewer than 50 characters are much more likely to appear in their entirity for people scanning your emails on their phone or tablet.

Need help keeping your subject lines short? Eliminate words that don't add value.  For instance, subject lines that included the word "newsletter" exhibited an open rate that was 18.7% less.  Want to test your subject lines?  Try a "subject line tester.

2. Include localization

Every contact wants to know that your email is relevant to them. When you include words that correspond to their local area or neighborhood, studies show that your open rate is much higher.

3. Personalize the sender name

This is easy-peasy in rezora, since every email includes the first name / last name in your profile.  But, the data is clear, emails that are clearly sent from a familiar name are opened and read at much higher rates.

4. Tell your contact what's in the email

Avoid the temptation to withold the true subject of your email.  This practice leads to disappointment from those who open your email (this time) and find that their expectations are unfulfilled.  To quote a recent study by Mailchimp - When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.”

6. Start with action-oriented verbs

Subject lines that begin with action verbs tend to be more enticing, and your emails could be drastically more clickable by adding a vibrant verb at the beginning.  Actionable subject lines will inspire people to click on your email by instilling urgency and excitement. For example, in an email inviting people to an open house event, a subject line that reads "Join us for an up-close look at this stunning mid-century" is more effective than "Open house announcement for 123 Anywhere Street". The former implies an exclusive and valuable experience, while the latter communicates almost nothing and contains no call to action.

7. Make people feel special

Exclusivity is a powerful motivator, especially in luxury and high-priced market segments.  When people feel like they're part of an inside group, that sense of belonging breaks down barriers and makes them more open to your message.  Try phrasing like "For a few key clients" or "A pre-market opportunity for an exclusive group"

8. Create a sense of urgency

One study showed that subject lines that create a sense of urgency can result in open rates that are 22% higher.  Using deadlines that communicate scarcity can encourage your recipient to act now rather than putting it off until later.

9. Use numbers

Sending an email with vague statements in the subject line often results in poor perfromance.  Using data and numbers in combinatrion with localization can be a killer combo.  Many of our users see great results with subject lines like " Scottsdale single family homes gain 2% in latest market report".  Another way to apply this thinking might be with an event announcement.  Try saying something like "Join 300 of your neighbors at our monthly get-together".

10. Avoid the following

There's a pretty long list of words to avoid here, but needless to say, words like "Free", "% Off", "Deal", and superlative words like "perfect", "wonderful" and "awesome" are definite no-no's.  Also, remove the "!!!" key from your keyboard right now.  It's pretty much useless anyway.